Updated August 21, 2020
If you’re looking to cut costs and have company, there’s no better solution than renting an apartment with roommates. Roommates can help share the cost of rent and utilities, as well as help create a strong support system. But renting with roommates isn’t always easy. Here is everything you need to know about renting with roommates in this complete guide:
Tips for Sharing a Small Space with Roommates
Whether you’re sharing a small house with multiple people or an apartment rental with your best friend, renting with roommates in a tight space can be both challenging and harmonious. To help you avoid conflict at home, here are some tips to help when renting an apartment with roommates regardless of the amount of space.
Choose Your Roommates Wisely
The best way to avoid conflict is to be smart about who you decide to live with. Choosing roommates that are trustworthy and responsible, but that you also get along with can make a significant difference.
Set Some Ground Rules
It may seem ridiculous to set rules between roommates, but simple rules can help everyone to stay on the same page and help to resolve problems when they arise. Some ideas for ground rules could include how chores are divided and what items in the house are free to share.
Respect Your Roommate’s Space
Regardless of the number of rooms in the apartment, you will each have a designated space to call your own. Whether you have an entire bedroom to yourself or just half of a bedroom, it’s important to be respectful of your roommate’s space, belongings, and personal items. Make sure that you do not use items that don’t belong to you. Mutual respect will go a long way, especially when living in a tight space.
Cut Out the Clutter
Your apartment is small enough as it is; don’t make it feel even smaller by allowing clutter to build up. Get in the habit of putting things away or getting rid of things that aren’t needed. Also, try to keep in mind how much available space you have before bringing new things into the home. If you have a lot of belongings that you don’t want to part ways with, look into renting a storage unit; this will allow you to maximize your space without getting rid of your stuff.
Get Creative with Space Maximizing Hacks
Making the most of small spaces may require a little creativity and ingenuity, but it can make a difference when you’re living with other people. From multifunctional furniture to hooks behind doors, there are a lot of clever ideas to help you maximize your available space.
Here are 53 insanely clever storage hacks and space-saving solutions.
Understand the Purpose of a Room
People like to use the rooms of their home in different ways. Some people prefer to work at the kitchen table, while others prefer a desk as a designated workspace. You may enjoy eating dinner on the couch, while your roommate wants to sit at the dining table for each meal. Take a few minutes to discuss what you each expect to help facilitate peaceful compromise.
Commit to Keeping Yourself Organized
Make a conscious effort to keep your personal belongings organized and in order. You can’t control what your roommates do or don’t do, but you can make sure that you remain considerate and responsible. Pay attention to where you leave daily items such as your car keys, purse, backpack, or shoes. Making a habit of putting things away, rather than leaving them lying around will help to keep the apartment tidy and make it easier to share the space with someone else.
Find a Space Outside of the House
There will be times when you need some space. Renting an apartment with roommates can make that difficult to do, so try to find somewhere that you can go and get away. This might be a local coffee shop with a table in the corner, or perhaps it’s a nearby park with a nice shady tree. Regardless of where it is, finding a space where you can relax will help minimize feeling frustrated or bothered by your roommates.
Ideas for Splitting Living Costs with Your Roommates
Renting an apartment with a friend or with roommates can make a significant difference in making the cost of living more affordable. Splitting rent, utility bills, cable or Internet bills, and even groceries can help with any budget, freeing up money for other things. Just as it can be hard to delegate responsibilities, deciding on how to split expenses fairly is not always easily done.
Here are some tips to help you split the bills when renting with roommates without creating conflict:
The best way to start is to make a detailed outline of all living expenses including due dates and average amounts due. By making a list of what bills there are and when they are due, you will be better able to decide who will pay what or how much each person is responsible for paying. Creating a spreadsheet that is shared with each person that includes all relevant information can help to keep everyone organized.
You should also set aside a time to calmly discuss how bills will be paid each month. Figure out what works most effectively for everyone in the house in terms of who will pay what, how it will be paid, or how the money will be collected. There are plenty of convenient apps that can be used to help you split the bills or make it easier to send money to one another.
Discover seven of the best bill-splitting apps for roommates.
Divvy Up the Rent First
Before you divide utility bills and miscellaneous expenses, be sure that you first establish how much of the rent each person will be responsible for paying. If the space and amenities in the apartment are even in availability, i.e., an equal number of rooms/bathrooms or an equal amount of space, you can easily divide the total rent by the number of roommates. However, in many instances, space is not completely even. For example, the master bedroom is typically bigger, may have a private bathroom or even a bigger closet; naturally whoever gets this bedroom can be expected to pay slightly more. Because deciding on what’s fair isn’t always easy to do, you might look into tools such as the one found at https://www.splitwise.com/calculators/rent that calculate a fair division of rent based on room size, closets, bathrooms and other possible factors.
Decide How You Want to Pay the Bills
While rent is a bill that has to be divided up between each roommate, paying the remaining bills can be done differently. You could choose to split the water, electricity, and gas bills evenly or you can consider the average amounts for each bill and divide the bills rather than the amounts. Whatever you choose, make sure that each person has a clear understanding of what has been decided on so that you can avoid late fees or unpaid bills.
Think Twice Before Splitting Costs of Shared Items
In the spirit of saving money, people often split the costs of shared household items such as furniture, kitchen appliances, or electronics. The problem with that, however, is splitting those items when the lease is up. Instead, take inventory of what each person already has and what is still needed. From there you can figure out who is responsible for finding or acquiring each item, making it easy to split up when someone moves out.
Buy Your Own Groceries
Just as splitting the cost of larger shared items can lead to potential problems, so can splitting grocery bills. Each person living in the house will have individual preferences on what stores to shop at or what type of foods to spend on; you can avoid an issue with a roommate by simply keeping the expense of groceries separate. When you first move in, talk about what each person feels is fair for commonly shared items such as condiments, spices, or even cleaning products – you may choose to split the cost or simply take turns buying those items when they run out.
Be Smart About Who You Choose to Live With
While it can be difficult to split rent and expenses with roommates, you can prevent bigger problems by choosing roommates wisely. Choose roommates that you know you can trust and who can afford to pay their share of rent and bills. Living with friends can be exciting, but don’t simply move in with someone because you like them. Likewise, don’t blindly move in with someone you don’t know. Be careful to protect yourself, your finances, and even your credit score by choosing dependable roommates.
Ideas to Help You Decorate with Your Roommates
Sharing a rental apartment can be challenging whether you live with friends or are someone who simply needed a roommate. While dividing up chores and splitting bills can be done systematically, finding a way to blend two (or more) decorative styles can be a little more complicated. Even if you and your roommate are lucky enough to have similar tastes in terms of décor, it’s difficult to find someone who likes the exact same things you do, in exactly the same way.
So how do you go about combining different opinions to decorate a small space? While it may not be as easy as deciding who sweeps and who takes out the trash, it is possible to blend your style with that of your roommates and create a beautiful living space that makes you all feel at home.
1. Sit Down in a Communal Space and Talk About What You Have in Common
The first step in creating a blended décor scheme is to come together and discover what you all like. While you may have different styles, you might find that you like similar colors. Or perhaps you all prefer modern design, but have different ideas on color palettes. Taking the time to sit down with your roommates and have a conversation about what it is you like and don’t like will help you avoid clashing. Be sure to listen carefully without criticizing the interests of others and truly work to find common ground.
2. Take Out What You Have and Put It All Together
Another important step is to discover what you each have to offer for the décor of the space. Take inventory of furniture to decide whose couch you’ll use and whose table you’ll use for dining. After you’ve decided on the major furniture pieces, pick a time to set out all the decorative pieces. This will help ensure that a little bit of every style makes its way into the décor of your home. It allows each roommate an opportunity to showcase the décor accents that are most important while providing a way to cohesively pull it all together.
3. Be Willing to Compromise Through Eclectic Style
Your roommates undoubtedly will have decorative ideas that don’t mesh well with your personal style and vice versa. Decorating a shared apartment will require plenty of compromise and flexibility. Be willing to bend in areas that are not as important to you and keep in mind that the space is your home, but it is not your own. Accepting that you may have to adopt an eclectic style to reach a fair compromise will also help you to adapt the vision you may have had for the apartment décor.
4. When in Doubt, Err on the Side of Function
If you and your roommates can’t seem to decide on the best decorative design, focus instead on creating a functional space that works to meet the needs of each person. An organized space, even if it doesn’t meet all decorative opinions, will at least help you to live comfortably and practically.
Here are some easy ideas on decorating for function with roommates.
5. Just Decide to Split the Spaces
If every person living in the apartment seems to have very strong opinions about design and décor, you might decide to split the difference so to speak. One of you decorates the living room, while the other decorates the kitchen and dining area. You may end up with an apartment with two very different design styles, but each roommate will at least have a room that reflects their personal style.
6. Make Your Bedroom Your Masterpiece
When you share an apartment, your bedroom becomes your sanctuary and the area that freely allows you to design and decorate in your own way. Even if you’ve had to compromise on the shared living areas, you won’t have to compromise in your bedroom or your side of the bedroom. Give yourself creative freedom and allow your style to shine so that you have that one space in the house that perfectly reflects your aesthetic.
Here are some more ideas on how to make a small rental apartment bedroom look great.